“Wait a second. You’ve been calling him ‘he,’ like a friend, but what’s his name?”
“He doesn’t have a name.”
“Don’t joke, Everyone has a name.”
“Then let’s see– How about Ultraman?”
-Ultraman, Episode 1
Godzilla is not the only giant stomping around Tokyo, nor is that limited to monsters. Eiji Tsuburaya, the special effects director for the original Godzilla, later founded his own company specifically to develop the art form. Tsuburaya Productions would go on to produce many special effects monster and hero shows, but one hero would rise above them all.
In 1966, the alien superhero Ultraman burst onto color screens for the first time. Fighting off giant monsters and extraterrestrial attacks with the help of the Science Patrol (usually with Thunderbird-like model planes and spaceships), the series is known for its groundbreaking use of special effects, model sets, and storytelling.
This was the birth of the modern tokusatsu genre, spawning countless other heroes such as Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, and later Power Rangers. Ultraman has taken many forms over the years, but every entry carries the torch of the giant of light. There have also been numerous other entries over the years, but rarely have they been available to an English audience. Now with so much content available, there has never been a better time to get into Ultraman. A new film, Shin Ultraman, a reimagining of the original series from famous filmmaker and animator Hideaki Anno, was set to be released this year. Production has stalled due to the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Shoutfactory has several Ultra shows available for streaming, including the original series and many newer ones. It has the first modern Ultra show that I finished, Ultraman Ginga (2013), a light-hearted entry that marked the 50th anniversary of Tsuburaya Productions.
Tsuburaya Productions has been very proactive in making old and current Ultraman content available to international audiences. The most recent series, Ultraman Trigger, is the second to be simulcast with English subtitles on their page. Follow them for the most up-to-date news and content.